Trump campaign opens office in blue city: ‘Good strides in the Black community’

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PHILADELPHIA – First-term Republican Rep. Welsey Hunt was a long way from his home state of Texas on Tuesday.

The military veteran and former President Trump surrogate was in Philadelphia to headline the opening of the former president’s first campaign office in Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state in Trump’s 2024 election rematch with President Biden.

“The person that’s going to come back and save this country from the brink is Donald John Trump,” Hunt, a Black Republican and rising star in the GOP, told supporters and reporters packed into a small office in the northeastern corner of the city.

While Trump’s fundraising has surged in the wake of his conviction last week in the first criminal trial of a current or former president, and while he holds the edge over Biden in the latest polling in most of the key swing states, Trump and the Republican National Committee are currently facing a large deficit to the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee when it comes to grassroots out reach and get-out-the-vote efforts.

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The Biden campaign notes that they have hired over 500 staff and opened more than 175 coordinated offices across battleground states. 

Additionally, in Pennsylvania, which was one of six states Biden narrowly carried in 2020 to win the White House, the president’s re-election campaign and the DNC and the state party have 24 coordinated offices and hundreds of staffers.

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President Biden, a Pennsylvania native, has made numerous official and campaign stops in the state – and Philadelphia in particular – since launching his re-election campaign over a year ago. Last week, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned in Philadelphia together for the first time.

“We do need to catch up a little bit, but we are going to open offices all over the state of Pennsylvania,” Vince Fenerty, the GOP chair in Philadelphia and a ward leader for over 50 years, told Fox News.

However, Fenerty emphasized that “we have the time to catch up. People are going to jump on the Trump train and the locomotive is going to move fast.”

“We did it in this part of the city because it’s ethnically diverse, racially diverse, and we want to start here because we want to build a very broad coalition of all Americans to be for President Trump,” Fenerty noted. 

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Philadelphia is overwhelmingly blue. Biden carried the city 81%-18% four years ago over Trump.

However, in an interview with Fox News, Hunt highlighted that “we are going bravely where no Republicans in the past 20-30 years have gone before. We are not playing catch up. We are actually fishing where the fish are.”

“We know that we are making some very good strides in the Black community, and among Hispanic men and Hispanic women,” Hunt added. “So guess what – we are here right now not playing catch up, but to put the final nail in the coffin.”

Kellan White, a senior adviser for the Pennsylvania Democratic coordinated campaign, fired back, telling Fox News that “Donald Trump is a convicted felon who couldn’t find an actual Pennsylvanian to headline his phony event.”

He charged that Trump has “spent years running racist campaigns, implementing a racist agenda, and hurting Black communities every chance he got as president. In stark contrast, Joe Biden is fighting and delivering for Pennsylvanians — especially for Black Pennsylvanians — by capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month for seniors, creating over 500,000 good paying jobs in Pennsylvania alone, and protecting our democracy and reproductive freedoms.”

The office opening in Philadelphia came a couple of hours after the Trump campaign and the RNC announced the launch of what they call “Swamp The Vote USA,” a new push to encourage Republicans to vote early in person or by absentee ballot. 

The Trump campaign says the new effort to promote early voting is part of the recently announced Trump Force 47 program, the campaign and the RNC’s neighbor-to-neighbor grassroots organizing program “that focuses on mobilizing highly-targeted voters in critical precincts across the battleground states and districts.”

There was grumbling by some Republicans in the Keystone State earlier this spring regarding the lack of any ground game by the Trump campaign and the RNC.

However, Lehigh County Republican Committee member Bobby Arena told Fox News on Tuesday that “everything is changing for the better,” as he pointed to what he said was “the extra support on the ground and offices that are opening around the state.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.